Pithoragarh: 10 September, 2015
The Kailash Mansarovar yatra through the Himalayan pass of Lipu-Lekh in Uttarakhand concluded on Wednesday with the last batch of pilgrims returning to Delhi after completing the annual pilgrimage.
This year 783 pilgrims from 26 states undertook the yatra, which began on June 12, in 18 batches from Lipu-Lekh pass route, Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigam (KMVN) Managing Director Dheeraj Garbiyal said.
The number of pilgrims this year was the second highest in the history of the yatra which reopened in 1981 after India-China war of 1962, he said.
KMVN is the nodal agency for conducting the annual yatra to the revered Mount Kailash and Lake Mansarovar located in Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) of China.
The pilgrimage is undertaken through the Lipu-Lekh pass in Pithoragarh district of Uttarakhand. Garbiyal said the pilgrims cross the highest point of Lipu-Lekh pass (5,450 m) in India before entering into TAR. They have to undergo a medical check up at Gunji before entering TAR.
This year, six pilgrims were not allowed to move further on medical grounds, while a woman pilgrim died while returning from the pilgrimage, officials said. Kailash-Mansarovar yatra has high value for Hindu pilgrims as Mount Kailash is said to be the abode of lord Shiva. Although there are restrictions on the number of pilgrims undertaking the yatra and those interested has to get permission from Ministry of External Affairs for it but there is a steady growth in the number of pilgrims.
DK Sharma, Divisional Manager Tourism, KMVN said in 1981 only 59 pilgrims undertook the yatra to holy Mount Kailash and Lake Mansarovar through this route. In in 1991, the number touched 227 followed by 464 in 2001 and 753 in 2010. Mansarovar lake lies at 4,590 metres (15,060 ft) above mean sea level, a relatively high elevation for a large fresh water lake on the mostly saline lake-studded Tibetan Plateau, while Mount Kailash (6,638 m) is the highest peak in the massive Gangdise mountain range.
Followers of Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism and Bonpas have faith on Mount Kailash and Lake Mansarovar and visit to this site is most considered a sacred pilgrimage. The year 2014, being the Year of Horse as per mythology prevailing in TAR, is expected to attract large number of pilgrims from different routes to the Kailash-Mansarovar. Most pilgrims from India opt for Nepal route to go for pilgrimage using services of private tour operators, but the pilgrimage is officially conducted by the Government of India through Uttarakhand.
The total distance to Kailash-Mansarovar, which include trekking at the Indian Border from Narayan Swami Ashram to Lipu-Lekh pass, is 865 kms from Delhi. It also involves trekking at high altitudes of up to 19,500 feet, under inhospitable conditions, including extreme cold and rugged terrain, and may prove hazardous for those who are not physically and medically fit.